Saturday, January 12, 2008

Digital Fix Part IV "The Magic Box"

The Magic Box
In a national study, 60% of those surveyed view having a computer in the classroom as a significant factor in achieving academic success, but only 27% consider socio-economic status relevant (Robertson, 2005, p. 90). The irony lies in the survey’s failure to indicate what the classroom computer use is, who uses it, or if it is even used at all! This should not shock anyone considering humankind’s 2 million year track record of receiving benefits merely by standing next to the latest technological innovation. Fire provides warmth, light bulbs illuminate, and television entertains. All perform as promised without any input from the user. Not so with digital technology.

The financial investment involved to place millions of computers in public schools has not yielded a measurable increase in academic achievement. Why? Because instructional technology is not meant to be a passive transmitter of heat, light, or sound. In order for digitally generated learning activities to be effective tools they should be thoughtfully incorporated by knowledgeable teachers in an engaging environment. Political leaders, superintendents, principals, and school board members would be wise to balance their investment in magical new tools with a proportional commitment to train classroom and pre-service teachers.

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